How Duke Covers Commencement
One of the most common questions the social media team gets each year as we head into commencement is “What is your shot list and how will you cover the event?” To many of our colleagues’ frustration, our answer is almost always, “We will see what we get on the day of.” Basically, at this point our plan about consists of a whole lot of this:
And a little bit of this:
Now, let me explain. This is not simply due to a lack of planning or to purposefully drive our commencement committee insane with unknowns. It’s because, truly, coverage of a live event is all about what I see once I get there. Sure, we can make educated guesses about what sort of content we will be looking for at the ceremony (students in robes, a timelapse of some sort, cute parents being excited), but the best part about these things are the unexpected content opportunities.
For example, these fashionable dudes simply could NOT be anticipated. I just happened to notice them in the procession and was lucky to grab a moment of video footage for our Instagram stories.
Another example is the content we posted that morning prior to the ceremony. I had no idea that I would be inspired to get a lovely campus shot of the quiet at 7:30 am before our ceremony. It just sort of happened as I was making my way through campus to the stadium.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t have some sort of idea about content before going into an event. We knew we would have student shots, behind-the-scenes coverage of Wallace Wade Stadium before the ceremony began, etc. We knew our hashtags and that we’d want coverage of Tim Cook as this year’s commencement speaker. Sonja planned for and manned the live stream on our Facebook channel while I covered real-time content on the field on Instagram stories and Snapchat. But the real fun begins once the students arrive and you see the wacky fashion choices, hat decor, excited parents, etc. None of that content can be planned for.
This year, we also held off on posting photo content to our Instagram feed until post-ceremony, which gave us enough time to get shots from our amazing photo team AND see what the graduates and other schools/units around campus had shared from the event. We really had our pick of content using this method instead of rushing to get something up in real-time. This is just another great bonus of the Stories feature on the app! We were active on Instagram before the ceremony even started, but with stories, we were able to share content without rushing to post something we didn’t absolutely love right away. This really gave us a greater variety of content to share in the afternoon and in the following couple of days.
So there you have it! It’s never an exact science, but our biggest bit of advice is to keep your eyes peeled for a variety of shots and behind-the-scenes content that can only be captured while the event is happening.
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